Rulers in the Spirit realm:

WHO or WHAT is wielding great influence over the world?

Is there some type of superhuman oversight? Or has God left humans to fend for themselves? In seeking answers to these questions, let us first consider an incident that occurred during the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ.

Shortly after his baptism, Jesus was tempted by an unseen spirit creature called Satan the Devil. Citing one of the temptations, the Bible says: "The Devil took [Jesus] along to an unusually high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory." (Matthew 4:8) Satan then told Jesus: "I will give you all this authority and the glory of them, because it has been delivered to me, and to whomever I wish I give it. You, therefore, if you do an act of worship before me, it will all be yours."—Luke 4:6, 7.

Satan claimed to possess authority over all the kingdoms, or governments, of this world. Did Jesus deny this claim? No. In fact, he confirmed it on another occasion by referring to Satan as "the ruler of the world."—John 14:30.

According to the Bible, Satan is a wicked angel possessing great power. The Christian apostle Paul associates Satan with "the wicked spirit forces" and speaks of them as "the world rulers of this darkness." (Ephesians 6:11, 12) Moreover, the apostle John said that "the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one." (1 John 5:19) The Bible book of Revelation states that Satan is "misleading the entire inhabited earth." (Revelation 12:9) In symbolic terms, Revelation also depicts Satan as a dragon that gives to the world's political system "its power and its throne and great authority."—Revelation 13:2.

World events also testify that there is an evil power at work, manipulating humans to their injury. For what other reason do human governments fail to promote peace? What else would cause people to hate and slaughter one another? Appalled by the carnage and death in a civil war, one eyewitness said: "I don't know how this could have happened. It is more than hatred. It's an evil spirit that is using these human beings to destroy each other."

A Real Person Opposed to God Today, many do not believe in Satan the Devil. Yet, he is not merely the principle of evil in humankind, as some believe. Both the Bible and world events show that he is a real person. Furthermore, Satan is diametrically opposed to Jehovah God. Of course, Satan is not equal to God. Since Jehovah is the all-powerful Creator, he is the rightful Ruler over all creation.—Revelation 4:11.

God did not create a wicked creature in opposition to himself. Rather, one of the angelic "sons of God" developed a selfish desire to seize for himself the worship rightfully belonging to Jehovah. (Job 38:7; James 1:14, 15) This desire led him to embark on a course of rebellion against God. By rebelling, this spirit creature made himself Satan (meaning "resister") and Devil (meaning "slanderer"). In view of all of this, you may wonder why Satan has been permitted to rule the world.

Why Satan Has Been Allowed to Rule?

Do you recall what Satan told Jesus about rulership over the earth? "I will give you all this authority . . . because it has been delivered to me," said Satan. (Luke 4:6) That statement shows that Satan the Devil exercises authority only by God's permission. But why does God tolerate Satan? The answer to that question relates to events in the garden of Eden, where Satan began his career as world ruler. There Satan suggested that God was ruling in a bad way by withholding something good from the first man and woman, Adam and Eve. According to Satan, if they ate the fruit forbidden by God, they would be liberated. Adam and Eve would be free and independent of Jehovah. They would be like God himself!—Genesis 2:16, 17; 3:1-5. By lying in this way and seducing Eve and through her inducing Adam to break God's law, Satan brought the first human pair under his leadership and control. The Devil thus became their god, one in opposition to Jehovah. Instead of liberation, however, Adam and Eve experienced slavery to Satan, to sin, and to death.—Romans 6:16; Hebrews 2:14, 15.

In harmony with his perfect justice, Jehovah could immediately have executed Satan and his two new followers. (Deuteronomy 32:4) Yet, there was a moral issue involved. Satan had called into question the rightfulness of Jehovah's way of ruling. In his wisdom, God allowed time to pass so that it could be proved that independence from him brings disaster. Jehovah permitted the rebels to continue living for a time, allowing Adam and Eve to have offspring.—Genesis 3:14-19.

Though most of Adam's offspring have not submitted to Jehovah's rulership, God's dealings with His worshipers have demonstrated its superiority. Proper recognition of Jehovah's authority brings happiness and true security. On the other hand, misery and insecurity have resulted from human rule under Satan's influence. Yes, "man has dominated man to his injury." (Ecclesiastes 8:9) Humans have not found genuine security and lasting happiness under human rule in this world lying in Satan's power. However, there is sound reason for optimism.

Satan's Time is Short!

Satan's influence on earth is temporary. Jehovah will not tolerate satanic rule much longer! Soon the Devil will be put out of action. A new ruler will take control of the earth, a righteous king chosen by God himself. That King is Jesus Christ. Concerning his enthronement in heaven, Revelation says: "The kingdom of the world did become the kingdom of our Lord [Jehovah] and of his Christ." (Revelation 11:15) Bible chronology, together with the fulfillment of Scriptural prophecy, proves that this event took place in the year 1914.—Matthew 24:3, 6, 7.

The Bible also describes what happened shortly after Jesus' enthronement. It says: "War broke out in heaven: Michael [Jesus Christ] and his angels battled with the dragon [Satan the Devil], and the dragon and its angels battled but it did not prevail, neither was a place found for them any longer in heaven. So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him."—Revelation 12:7-9.

What would be the result of Satan's expulsion from heaven? Those in heaven could rejoice, but what about the earth's inhabitants? "Woe for the earth and for the sea," says Revelation 12:12, "because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time." Indeed, the casting of Satan out of heaven has brought woe to the earth. The Columbia History of the World states: "The great catastrophe of the Four Years' War of 1914–1918 . . . showed the Western world that it could not protect civilization from its own stupidity or evil impulse. The spirit of the West has never really recovered from that shattering."

The woes of this generation are marked by far more than a shattered spirit. Jesus prophesied: "Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another." He also foretold pestilences. (Matthew 24:7, 8; Luke 21:11) Moreover, the Bible says that in "the last days" of Satan's system of things, many would be "lovers of themselves, lovers of money, . . . disobedient to parents, . . . not open to any agreement." People would also be "lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God."—2 Timothy 3:1-5. Wars, pestilences, food shortages, earthquakes, and a change for the worse in moral values—all such things have taken place on an unprecedented scale since 1914, just as the Bible foretold. They indicate that the enraged enemy of God and man—Satan the Devil—has been cast out of heaven and now must confine his wrath to the domain of the earth. But the Bible also shows that Satan will not be allowed to operate much longer. He has only "a short period of time" remaining until Armageddon, when God destroys the world system that Satan controls.

What will then happen to Satan? The apostle John wrote: "I saw an angel coming down out of heaven with the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he seized the dragon, the original serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. And he hurled him into the abyss and shut it and sealed it over him." (Revelation 20:1-3) What relief for suffering mankind!

Rejoicing Under Kingdom Rule

With Satan out of the way, God's Kingdom under Jesus Christ will take full control of mankind's affairs. Instead of having many governments on earth, only one heavenly government will remain to rule over the entire planet. War will be a thing of the past, and peace will prevail everywhere. Under the rule of God's Kingdom, all will dwell together in loving brotherhood.—Psalm 72:7, 8; 133:1; Daniel 2:44.

What sort of ruler will Jesus prove to be? When he was on the earth, he displayed a deep love for people. Jesus compassionately gave food to the hungry. He healed the sick and restored sight to the blind, speech to the speechless, and soundness of limb to the lame. Jesus even brought the dead back to life! (Matthew 15:30-38; Mark 1:34; Luke 7:11-17) Those miracles were foregleams of the marvelous things he will yet do as King. How wonderful it will be to have such a beneficent ruler!

Endless blessings will be experienced by those who submit to Jehovah's sovereignty. The Scriptures promise: "At that time the eyes of the blind ones will be opened, and the very ears of the deaf ones will be unstopped. At that time the lame one will climb up just as a stag does, and the tongue of the speechless one will cry out in gladness." (Isaiah 35:5, 6) Pointing ahead to that grand day, the apostle John wrote: "I heard a loud voice from the throne say: 'Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.'"—Revelation 21:3, 4.

The delights bestowed by Jehovah God's rulership through his Son, Jesus Christ, will more than compensate for any suffering we may have experienced in the present system of things dominated by Satan the Devil. In God's promised new world, people will not wonder, 'Who really is in charge?' (2 Peter 3:13) Obedient mankind will be happy and secure in the earthly domain of the loving Rulers in the spirit realm, Jehovah and Christ. Why not embrace the hope of being among their subjects?


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